LeaveHQ, 16/12/2015  

LeaveHQ is not messing around. We want to win this referendum. There are no second chances and, metaphorically speaking, this is a fight to the death. All other concerns, including some strongly held beliefs come secondary to achieving this one thing. Leaving the EU is a catalyst to many other reforms we wish to see, so that must remain the focus of our activities.

This requires a great deal of concentration. There are many worthy battles to be fought but some of those issues have a direct impact on our chances of winning a referendum, so we feel it important to stay focussed on what really matters.

Some would have us charge at it like a steamroller, fighting all the battles at once. This is never advisable in politics. It is this consideration that dictates the tone of this website. From our founding vision flows all our further communications. Everything we say has an impact and everything has consequences. Mindful of that, everything must be analysed and questioned. Discipline is critical to running an effective campaign.

In this regard we have a huge task just getting own side into focus on the main issues. To this end we would request that Brexit campaigners give serious consideration to our key campaigning points, and use them when they debate EU issues. It matters. We have identified four main mistakes that our side will make. Here we outline them:

1. Don't talk about how much money Brexit will save

Whatever Brexit option we choose, we have to remember that membership of the EU involves much more than trade. We cooperate in a huge range of activities, from student exchanges to the use of airspace, and much else. Before reaching a final agreement on leaving, we have to decide on the activities we want to continue, and the terms. Not all of it is bad - but none of it comes for free. We have leases and future commitments all of which have to be paid for. We can't put a number on it - nor should we. It's not about the money. You can't put a price on democracy.

2. Don't talk about leaving the single market

The EU and the single market are not the same thing. Jobs do not depend on the EU, they depend on the common regulatory area: the EEA and beyond. If we talk about leaving the single market then we have to specify what our alternative is.

The truth is, there are few realistic alternatives that would guarantee continuity of trade - and unless we can satisfy that criteria, then we cannot sell Brexit. Business will not accept such risks. Uncertainty over trade is a referendum loser.

Those who take a harder line need to recognise that we must evolve our way out of forty years of integration - and that will require patience. Right now we are dealing with just the first step. The gesture of leaving the EU political entity.

3. Don't talk about cutting regulations

Believe it or not, regulations are quite popular. Nobody wants to be driving an unsafe car or swim in polluted water. A eurphobe obsession with hating regulations just because they come from the EU makes us look like petulant whingers and dinosaurs.

Regulation of trade very often reduces red tape rather than creates it. It facilitates better, faster, wider trade. If we want to reduce red tape then we need better regulation. That means we need to be free of the EU to instigate changes to the rules at the top tables, where the rules are made.

Many EU regulations are not made by the EU. In most respects production standards and regulations are made by ISO, UNECE, UNEP, ILO, IMO and the likes. It is at these bodies we must make our voice heard. Leaving the EU gives us a voice, a vote and a veto. Brexit is about finding our voice on the global stage. It is not about turning the clock back.

4. Don't talk about controlling immigration

Almost everybody is agreed that immigration is a real concern. There is, however, no common ground on what to do about it. Thus to make a central issue of it in the referendum is to argue a divisive issue that brings out the very worst in people - often opening up ugly and unsophisticated arguments that run counter to our progressive, globalist message. 

Moreover, the EU has made it abundantly clear that if we want to stay in the Single Market, acceptance of the principle freedom of movement is non-negotiable. We can abolish freedom of movement or we can stay in the single market. We can't do both.

In order to leave the EU and secure the medium and long-term gains that accrue from so doing, we must accept a short-term compromise over freedom of movement. To demand otherwise is to propose a Brexit scenario that is more than likely going to lose the referendum.

Once we leave the EU we can raise the issue separately and address many of the other aspects of immigration policy that need urgent attention. Not least the asylum system, which is only partially an EU issue.

In any case, Freedom of Movement is only a part of our overall immigration. There is much good in it, and those reforms to it, yet to be defined, will likely find more support when raised as an issue separate to Brexit. It may be a bitter pill for some to swallow, but this is the price for leaving the EU. 

There is also one other major consideration. The Europhile think tank British Influence recently posed ten questions to Brexit groups. We answered them in full here. You will see that when we concede on freedom of movement, we sideline their best arguments and leave them with nothing. There is major strategic merit in conceding for the greater goal of leaving the EU. It may be the key to winning.


We realise that these guidelines cordon off a great many arguments classic Eurosceptics prefer to use. They are deep inside their comfort zone. They will have to do some soul searching and ask what really matters to them. Complaining about the EU or leaving it? They will have to employ more intelligent and creative arguments in order to win.

Readers wanting a more detailed explanation of our findings can read the full Brexit plan we outline here.

Like many of our explainers, we aim to continuously improve them, so check back with this page from time to time. We will be evolving the arguments as the campaign unfolds.

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